What Really Happened At Nancy Sinatra’s Saturday Night Party?
Tommy phoned and, almost without asking how Nancy was, excitedly screamed into the receiver, “I’m gonna be a free man! Let’s have a blast. Get the gang together!” For a moment Nancy was stunned. She thought they’d spend the two days just by themselves, having fun on their own. But why shouldn’t all of Tommy’s closest friends, who were just as concerned about him as she was, get a chance to say “Hi.” She almost dreaded last minute parties, but she reminded herself that, somehow, they usually turned out just right . . .
Besides, Tommy was coming home. The weeks of letter writing, waiting by the phone for a call, the worrying about trying to prepare for their future without Tommy’s help, would soon be over. Tommy was coming home—only for a couple of days—but he was still coming home!
She yelled up to her mother, “Tommy’s coming home!”
Then she got on the phone and started dialing numbers. She began with Eddie Goldstone because he’d been their Cupid, he brought them together . . . then she called Fabian . . . and Frankie Avalon . . . and Dwayne Hickman . . . and on down the list of Tommy’s friends. To each she said, “Tommy’s coming home for the weekend. We’d love you to stop by for a Coke and a hamburger.” At first she was going to make it a Saturday night party, but playing it safe, she invited everyone “come to a Saturday night party on Sunday at six.” And she explained that that was just in case . . . you never knew about the Air Force. She was beginning to get in the mood of the party. And after all, there had only been the family at their wedding, because a big wedding scared both her and Tommy; so it was only fair that they have a party for their friends now.
The entire Sinatra family went along to meet Tommy at the train depot. Somehow, plans got all mixed up and the train was almost five hours late. Nancy almost bit her nails down to the bone and Nancy Sr., who had come to the station to calm her daughter’s nerves, tried to laugh it off.
When Tommy finally stepped off the train, he rushed into Nancy’s arms. They had been married in Las Vegas only a few weeks before, but Tommy’d only had a few days’ leave and then he’d had to go back to the Air Force.
Then everybody hugged Tommy, got his bags and headed for home. He would spend the weekend at Nancy’s house. Most of his belongings had been stored there when he went in Service.
All day Saturday, Nancy had hurried around getting the food, picking up the big cake and now she had everything checked off the list—from napkins to pickles. It was her first party as a married woman and she wanted it to be just right.
By 5 o’clock the sprawling Sinatra “hacienda” was so immaculate it sparkled. There wasn’t an ash in an ashtray or a chair out of place. Out on the patio Nancy had the barbecue set up with hamburgers and hot dogs ready to roast. The redwood table was set, with the huge cake for a centerpiece. What a cake she’d ordered! “Welcome Home, Thomas Sands” across the top was only the beginning—it was also decorated with a picture of “The Old Oaken Bucket,” Tommy’s newest recording. Everything was ready and perfect. Even the big rolling lawn had a haircut for the occasion.
But it wasn’t even 5:30 when the doorbell rang.
“I told everybody six!” Nancy squealed. “I’m not ready.” It turned out to be someone who’d gotten the time wrong. He politely suggested to Mrs. Sinatra that he’d be glad to come back a little later. And he did.
Nancy hurried and she and Tommy even caught a few minutes alone. Then, by six-thirty, the gang was spread over the house. Frankie Avalon and Fabe arrived and Frankie spent a lot of time talking to Tommy about the Air Corps. “No, it’s not the Air Corps, it’s the Air Force,” Tommy corrected.
Frankie wondered if he’d soon be drafted, or join the Service for six months like Tommy had.
Frankie Sinatra Jr. turned out to be the big hit of the party. “He’s almost the spitting image of his sister,” Bob Marcucci, who’s Fabe’s and Frankie Avalon’s manager, said. Fabe thought he looked more like Frank Sr. than his sister does, but he’s definitely a combination of both his parents, and the sweetest, lovingest guy ever.
Little Tina Sinatra looked almost lost in the crowd. But everybody couldn’t help notice what a great beauty she’ll turn out to be one day. Nancy Jr. even kidded her baby sister about it. “Good thing you’re not a few years older, Tina,” she laughed. “You’d have given me a good run for my money with Tommy.” It was obvious that Tommy was simply mad for his little sister-in-law and she for him.
Toward 7 o’clock the doorbell rang and in walked Dwayne “Dobie Gillis” Hickman—with none other than Dorothy Provine. Everyone gasped. It wasn’t just because Dotty looked glamorous in a blue dress with lots of gold beads around her neck, but because she was with Dwayne. They used to be a hot twosome over a year ago, though no one ever expected them to get back together again. Now here they were.
A moment alone
All through the party, Nancy tried not to leave Tommy’s side. She had so many things to tell him, but there wasn’t a free minute to be alone. Every time they tried to walk off to steal a little privacy, someone would be screaming, “Where’s Nancy and Tommy?”
Everybody who came in wanted to see their album of wedding pictures. “Haven’t got to it yet,” Nancy groaned. “It takes so long. . . .”
While everyone was dancing or huddled in groups telling jokes, Dorothy and Dwayne sat off to a side, having a heated discussion on politics. Nancy and Tommy looked at each other and, without a word, they took advantage of the moment and went off into another quieter room.
In the meantime, Mrs. Sinatra was busily running around the house looking after things. She’d gone along on the last-minute party idea but you couldn’t blame her if she didn’t seem too keen on what it was doing to her house. She seemed to be the kind of a woman who hated seeing smokers use ashtrays for their ashes—for no sooner had someone stamped out his cigarette and the smoke died down, than the ashtray was as clean as a whistle.
Some of the crowd drifted over to Dorothy and Dwayne’s corner and their political discussion had a lot of the guys going. No one expects Dotty to be a brain, though Nancy remembered what Dorothy once told her. “When I first came to Hollywood, I’d never show I had opinions or read books or anything,” she confided. “I was afraid it would put men on the defensive against me.”
Off in another corner, Frankie Jr. sat on a stool playing the bongos. Wow! What a wild cat he is! The talent that oozes from every inch of his body is not to be believed! He plays the wildest piano, too, and knows so much about photography that pros gladly take tips from him. When he hit those bongo drums, his eyes lit up like electric signs on New Year’s eve.
Before long, an old family friend, who played a great piano, stopped by and accompanied Frankie. By dusk, the whole gang was sitting around the living-room floor as Tommy began to sing sweet love songs to his Nancy, who cuddled close in his arms. . . . When Tommy finished, someone screamed, “C’mon. Avalon, it’s your turn!” For a moment, Frankie looked as though he’d pass out. Maybe he wasn’t too happy about the idea of singing with all that competition around, but he obliged like a pro and knocked everyone over. Ted Wick, who’d been sitting on the floor, glanced nervously over to where Bob Marcucci sat in a big comfortable chair. Somehow, you got the feeling that both managers were saying, “Hey, look at my boy. . . . He’s better than yours!” Of course, that really wasn’t true. And everyone was convinced that both boys would be around for a long, long time.
Getting up to dance, Nancy almost spilled a Coke on the new dress she’d just bought. It was a white-and-black checkered affair with a tight bodice and full skirt. Tommy had once told her he prefers sheath dresses, but, for warm weather, Nancy finds full skirts a lot more comfortable.
Billy Belasco came over to ask how their apartment was coming along. Nancy and Tommy had just taken the same kind of apartment he had, only in a building a block away. Billy’s question reminded Nancy of how many things she wanted to talk to Tommy about.
The apartment was almost all furnished. She’d had to do most of the decorating herself. It had driven her almost out of her mind. She even made a special trip down to Texas one weekend to bring Tommy all the sample materials for their drapes, couch, chairs and so on. She’d just die if Tommy didn’t like the stuff she’d picked out. But before she made the final purchases, he did give her some idea of what he wanted. “Big, comfy furniture,” he said. After all, it was really up to her.
The party’s over
Ben Sands, Tommy’s dad, seemed excited about the whole party. He didn’t talk a lot, just watched smilingly from the sidelines. Nancy was the cutest girl in the whole world as far as Mr. Sands was concerned. He was so happy that the entire Sinatra clan—from Mom, Nancy to Tina and Frankie Jr.—they all loved his Tommy. After all, it was a broken home life Tommy had come from, as did Nancy, too, but hers seemed so much more stable. Tommy’s mother hadn’t come to the party. She was in Texas and Frank Sr. was in Las Vegas. Otherwise, just about all the people Tommy loved best in the world were there, joining in the party.
Around 10 o’clock, the party seemed to be over. Fabe was the first to leave. He had to make a late rehearsal. Billy Belasco left shortly after that. Most of the gang left in little groups and by 10:30 the overturned cups were gone, the pillows were off the floor and back on the couch, and the left-over food had been put away. Tina had gone off to bed and Frankie Jr. had driven off to see one of his girlfriends—presumably Jana Taylor, who’d been dating Fabian for so long a time recently. Jana and Frankie had been good friends since their early school days and even though they were both in high school—different ones, too—they remained close friends. Nancy Sr. was rather pooped out by the whole affair. She kissed the kids goodnight and retired to her room to watch some television before falling asleep.
Tommy and Nancy took a walk down to the pool, which was quite a ways away from the house. The lights all over the vast city were on and the reflection of the multi-colored lights on the pool made the whole setting appear like a scene from a technicolor movie. Hand in hand, her head on his shoulder, Tommy and Nancy stared out at Los Angeles spread out before them.
They had so much to talk about . . . but not now. It wasn’t the time. Nancy sighed softly, pleased with the way the party had turned out. glad to have the chance to see all of his friends.
“Have fun?” she asked, smiling up at him.
“Hmmm,” he nodded. “Thanks for the party. It was great. But now,” he said, “just the two of us alone . . . that’s really the greatest.”
A short while later, they headed back toward the house. Tommy had to report to the Long Beach Air Force Base on Tuesday morning. Only one more day together. They were both too tired to really talk about any problems. “Mrs. Sands,” he whispered, and he took her in his arms and kissed her. Tomorrow they could talk . . . there was always tomorrow!
—BY RONA BARRETT
Hear Tommy sing for Capitol records.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 1960